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Plot Summary of A Tale of Two Cities

It is the year 1775, and England and France are undergoing a period of social upheaval and turmoil. The forces that are leading to revolution in France are colliding with a circle of people in England, causing their destinies to be irrevocably intertwined. Lucie Manette, a young woman who has been raised as an orphan and a ward of Tellson s ban!, learns that her father is alive and has recently been released from prison after eighteen years of un"ust incarceration. #he travels to the French suburb of Saint Antoine with $r. %arvis Lorry, a longtime Tellson s employee who had managed her father s affairs before his imprisonment. They find her father at the home of Ernest &efarge, a former domestic of &r. $anette s who has housed the doctor since his release. Though her father is teetering on the brink of insanity, she solemnly vows that she will be true to him and devote her life to helping him recover himself. The family relocates to 'ondon, and $r. 'orry becomes a friend of the family. (fter time, the doctor begins to recover and resumes his practice, and though he occasionally reverts bac! to his trance)li!e state, he slowly but surely returns to himself. Throughout the process, he and 'ucie become e*tremely close. (fter a period of five years, 'ucie and her father are called to testify in the trial of +harles &arnay, a French citi,en and 'ondon resident who has been accused of treason against England. 'ucie testifies that she and her father saw &arnay on a ship bound for England the night she brought her father bac! home to 'ondon, and that he was conversing with other men and poring over documents. Though the testimony is damaging, 'ucie notes that &arnay had been e*tremely !ind and helpful to her in caring for her father on the ship, and she admits that she hopes her testimony has not doomed him. &arnay is ultimately saved when one witness testimony hinges on the witness certainty that he saw &arnay at a certain locale at a particular time. -hen #ydney Carton, a member of &arnay s defense team, removes his wig in court, it is revealed that he bears a stri!ing resemblance to &arnay, thereby eroding the witness credibility in terms of his certainty of having seen +harles &arnay himself. &arnay is ultimately freed, and this circumstance draws everyone involved closer together. &arnay, along with $r. 'orry, becomes a friend of the family, and #ydney +arton becomes a regular visitor, if not an entirely welcome one))he is fre.uently drun!, often sullen, and coarse in his manner. Though the others complain of +arton s manner, one evening he confides in 'ucie and tells her that while he has made nothing of his life and will not improve before he dies, he wants her to !now that she has awa!ened feelings in him that he thought had been stamped out long ago. #he as!s if she can help him, and he says no, but that he wants her to !now that he cares for her deeply. The group continues to visit regularly, and on one particular evening, 'ucie notes that there is an ominous feeling in the air, as if she is able to forecast that grave danger and turmoil are in her future. /ut the family continues to be happy, and 'ucie eventually marries &arnay, who tells her father that he has a secret that no one else !nows. &r. $anette as!s &arnay to save the secret for the marriage morning, and &arnay does.

( year passes. &arnay returns to France to attend to the business that had gotten him into trouble in England in the first place. 0e pays a visit to his uncle, a corrupt aristocrat who is so cruel that when his carriage driver rec!lessly ran over and !illed a peasant s child, he blamed the peasants for being in the way. (fter having dinner in his uncle s lavish chateau, &arnay wa!es up to find that his uncle has been murdered. 0e returns to England, and several more years pass. 0e and 'ucie have two children, a son and a daughter. The son passes away as a young boy, but the family continues to be relatively happy despite this tragic circumstance. /ut the foreboding sense looms in the air, and $r. 'orry notes that many of Tellson s 1aris customers are frantically transferring their assets to the 'ondon branch, signaling some !ind of danger in 1aris. 0e notes that he will have to travel to 1aris to help the office there handle the volume. 2ne day, $r. 'orry remar!s to &arnay that he has received a letter addressed to a $ar.uis #t. Evr3monde in care of Tellson s. &arnay says that he !nows the man and will deliver the letter4 in truth, &arnay is the $ar.uis #t. Evr3monde, a descendant of the corrupt rulers of France. The letter is from an old friend who has been put in prison un"ustly and who fears that he will soon be e*ecuted. &arnay, who has so long avoided France for fear of what might happen to him there because of his heritage, reali,es that he must go. 0e goes to intervene on his friend s behalf and .uic!ly reali,es that the situation is worse than he could have imagined. ( revolution has ta!en place4 the peasants have overthrown the government and are murdering anyone who they feel represents the old guard. &arnay is immediately ta!en into custody, though he tries desperately to e*plain that unli!e his uncle and father, he is on the peasants side and wants to help them. They disregard his testimony, and none other than Ernest &efarge, who has since become a revolutionary, sends &arnay to prison. /y this time, 'ucie and her father have learned that &arnay has returned to France, aware that &arnay is probably in grave danger. The revolutionaries treat &r. $anette as a hero, however, because he had so long suffered at the hands of the same government that oppressed them 5and that they have since overthrown6. /ecause of his newfound influence, he is able to learn where &arnay is, and he intervenes on his behalf. -hen &arnay is tried for his life in front of a corrupt and farcical tribunal, only &r. $anette s testimony saves him. 0e is freed, but before even one day passes, he is recaptured on the grounds that three French citi,ens have denounced him. 0e is forced to undergo another trial, at which it is learned that the citi,ens who denounced him are Ernest &efarge, $adame &efarge 5Ernest s cruel and vengeful wife6, and &r. $anette. -hen &r. $anette declares that he has never denounced +harles and that whoever accused him of doing so is lying, &efarge presents a paper to the tribunal to be read aloud. The paper turns out to be a "ournal that &r. $anette had written after ten years in prison and hidden in a chimney4 &efarge discovered it when the peasants freed that particular prison. The account reveals that &r. $anette had learned that a $ar.uis #t. Evr3monde and his brother had cruelly murdered a peasant, and he learned this because the men retrieved him to give medical attention to their victims before they died. 0e saw how the brothers treated their victims so cruelly, and he had written a letter to the government informing them of what he saw. The brothers Evr3monde learned that &r. $anette had written the letter. #hortly thereafter, he was ta!en prisoner, and his wife was never informed of what happened to

him. For this, &r. $anette wrote that he denounced the brothers Evr3monde and all their descendants. (fter the letter is read, the court erupts into an uproar, and the tribunal votes unanimously to e*ecute &arnay. 'ucie and her father are beside themselves4 by this time, +arton has traveled to 1aris, and he and $r. 'orry confer and try to decide what to do. &uring this time, &r. $anette tries to save &arnay, but he relapses into his trance)li!e state and is unable to do anything. Through a series of coincidences, +arton discovers that one of the men who testified against &arnay at his trial several years earlier is wor!ing as a spy in France. 0e learns that the man is a spy in the prison where &arnay is held, and he blac!mails the man into granting him access to &arnay. $r. 'orry remar!s solemnly that this will not help &arnay4 +arton says he !nows this, and &arnay s fate seems irrevocably sealed. +arton, however, has other plans. 0e goes to the prison on the day of +harles e*ecution on the pretense of visiting him one last time. /ut once he gets inside, he uses his physical resemblance to &arnay and his ability to manipulate the spy to pull off the ultimate sacrifice. 0e drugs &arnay into a stupor, switches clothing with him, and has the spy smuggle &arnay out of the prison and into a waiting carriage that also includes &r. $anette, 'ucie, and $r. 'orry. 0e tells no one of his plan, and not even the $anettes !now it. They are waiting in their carriage for +arton, fully e*pecting that he will "oin them and that they will leave France in a hurry. The rest of the family is in danger because of $adame &efarge, who wants to denounce all of them. The peasant that the Evr3monde brothers murdered was her brother, and she wants revenge against &arnay and his entire family. The spy smuggles +harles to the waiting carriage, and the family escapes France. +arton, however, goes to the guillotine and dies for 'ucie, fulfilling his promise to her that he would die 7to !eep a life you love beside you.7 %ust before he dies, he thin!s to himself that his final act is far better than anything else he has ever done.